Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Pattern Work

I'm beginning to alter the pattern for a Marfy dress I'm going to make. It's from the new 2014/15 catalog, #3507, and as soon as I saw it in the catalog,I knew I had to have it. I've been thinking if a neoprene dress since a trip to Chicago with Mardel. We saw some wonderful examples at Barney's, and when Elliott Berman had some, AND it's their 50% off birthday sale, I simply had to get the fabric. Here's the pattern as it comes,
partly unfolded,
and laid out to check.
Pattern alterations are never any fun. We would all like to just have the pattern come out of the package perfectly sized for us, ready to cut. Well, at least in my case, that's never going to happen. I will shorten above the bust, enlarge the bust, do a swayback alteration which will add a CB seam, and probably enlarge the sleeves slightly, as they are exactly my size now, with no ease. It would be okay for this fabric as is, but I think a little ease it's a good thing generally. Wish me luck! I'm trying an app that lets me blog from my phone, so I'm hoping it will mean more posts from me.

Thanks to becki-c, I now have the correct pattern illustration, too!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Another "Design Opportunity". FSG#1960 Plaid

I love design opportunities, but not as much when they appear because I have made a mistake that needs to be rectified. You get a hint of the solution on the right.  The third photo will show you the problem that I fixed.  All of the photos are also at my photo site.


I naturally planned to match the plaid on this top.  I didn't think much about it, and since the most plaid I've matched were all the shirts I made for Pearle, I just used my fall-back plaid matching method, and matched the lower armscye points.  It always worked beautifully on his shirts, but as you can see in the following photo, there was a little problem when I got to the dart.  Duh.  So, now I had a design opportunity camouflaged as a mis-matched side seam.  Although something like the seam shown below would be unremarkable in a lot of RTW, it is almost unthinkable in what I make for myself. 

I think my solution is rather fun, and it was fairly simple, although the spongy knit made it tricky to do a horizontal tuck very easily.  Not like pressing a beautiful tuck in say, linen.  But with a little hand basting, it all worked out, and the side seams are fine, and the back is FUN, if I do say so myself.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Teaching at ASG Convention

Mark Your Calendars for ASG Conference

Hyatt Regency St. Louis, at the Arch

July 24 - 28, 2014

I am so excited!  I hope you will be excited for me, too. 

I will be teaching at the American Sewing Guild National Convention in St. Louis in July!!

My friend Ruth C insisted I send in a teaching proposal, so I did, and they accepted me.  I will be teaching 3 different classes over the 4 day convention, with one repeat.  They are:

Shoes As Stylish As You:  We will cover a shoe with fashion fabric and your choice of embellishments, thus learning the techniques you will use to have a wardrobe of shoes to match your wardrobe of garments.  The class project will finish as a pincushion.  You may remember my Threads article on this topic.

Marfy Magic For You:  This is a trunk show of Marfy garments with a discussion of how to choose, use and acquire the patterns.  If you read my blog, you know I love Marfy, and it is so much fun to spread the love.  This is the class I'll repeat.

Clever With Your Needle: Specialty Hand Details:  Again, if you read my blog, you know I love to use hand details on my garments, and this will introduce them to you and discuss just why and when we would want to use them.  In a hands-on setting, we will learn to put a hand-stitched lining into a coat or jacket,  make a personalized medallion to use in a coat/jacket lining,  try some hand topstitching and saddle stitching, buttonholes, and some other fun details.  Here's a photo of the type of thing we will be talking about and trying.

So, if you are even thinking about going to Convention, think hard!  I want to see you all there, and get to meet you IRL!  When you decide, I want to know about it, so we can plan to meet. 

Catching Up to Style Arc

I have been hearing about Style Arc patterns for quite a while.  Ann, of Gorgeous Fabrics told me to get with it last year and try them, even suggesting a few I would like.  As usual, I'm a little behind, but I ordered the new Zoe Pencil Skirt the other day and along with it got February's Free-Pattern-of-the-Month, the Issy Knit Top.

Here they are laid out on the dining room table.  I have already traced and laid out the skirt.  I  have a nice blue tweedy wool that will be a good trial, and I have a gorgeous Elegance fabric from Mardel that I will use next if it is as good as I think it may be.  I love the idea of the dart shaping they're using, and the shifted side seams.  Let's hope it likes me too!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Thank You!

Thank you to everyone who commented so kindly on my Mermaid Gown.  It took me forever to get the post up, as I wanted some close-ups of the embellishment and it just wasn't happening.  So, here they are.  I used a very free-form style of beading and just found a bunch of beads that I thought looked good together and with the fabric.  I wanted something that would end up looking kind of floral and encrusted without being too much.  I am very happy with the way it turned out.

 This is the twist at the waist and the strung beads and cords that hang down from it.

The second photo shows the central drape a little higher up showing the twist and what's just above it.  There are a lot of silk ribbon 'leaves' mixed in with the beads.

 The third photo is higher up yet on the drape, showing the main style of embellishment.  The curving beads are cut pieces of spiral shells, a little hard to stitch on, and they don't stay perfectly still, but that's okay, it gives a little more movement to the design.

This is the perfect packable gown, as it seems to eschew wrinkles no matter what, and in fact I was carrying it around the house in a tote bag while I was beading on it.  Since it can't and shouldn't be hung, it now lives in a fabric-covered box on a shelf in my closet, waiting for its next appearance.

I can't tell you how much your kind and tremendously thoughtful comments mean to me.  I appreciate and reread each and every one.  Thank you.


I just have to show off my lovely flowers.  I had some kind of a virus Friday that laid me low and my sweetie brought me flowers.  

Then when I got well, he brought me a dozen roses!  I just had to share.

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Mermaid Gown

 I have been working on this gown for quite some time, since I wasn't in any hurry and didn't have any place to wear it particularly.  When the 90th Anniversary Banquet for my Mu Phi Epsilon alumni chapter came up, I knew I had to finish it.

The fabric is a mint/dull-red cross-dyed stretch velvet which was a gift from my dear friend Patti.  In the photos it shows as much more red than it does in person, I think because of the flash, but it is very changeable, and a lovely fabric.  She bought it and later realized that it wasn't her colors.  However, it IS my colors, and she was kind enough to let me have it.  I didn't have any plan for it originally, and thought it might become a nice, snuggly winter top.  And in fact, I was holding it up in front of the mirror last winter to see what style might be good when I draped it around myself and realized that it wanted to be an evening gown.

I have long been an adherent to the theory that you can't just pin a length of fabric around yourself and stitch it up as is, with no underpinnings, and have it look good once you're past about 18-20 years old.  I was shocked when I did just that with this fabric.  It was almost magic, the way everything just worked as if it was meant to be.  I don't expect to ever have it happen again.  I simply tacked it where I had pinned it, and didn't even cut at all.  Since the inside is a dull red, it makes a great contrast to the mint/sage green and red of the right side, and I used that contrast for the turn-over at the top.  The slit in the skirt shows both sides as well. 

The only interior 'work' I did was to add a grosgrain waist stay that is attached at the point where the waist drape twists.  With all the skirt fabric hanging from that point, it became heavy enough to sag after I added the beading, and the stay holds everything in place.  I wasn't uncomfortable once during the evening, or nervous that my dress was going to move out of place.

The beading was fun, and I just started in without any great plan other than an idea of what I wanted it to look like when I was done, and added more and more, and after the Kenneth King Weekend, I added silk ribbon embroidery and even more beads and some cording and strung beads that hang from the waist drape. 

The shawl is a piece of silk chiffon embroidered with starfish (appropriate for a mermaid gown?) that I purchased from eQuilter several years ago.  It's simply hemmed on the ends, and uses the selvedges for the other edges.  It turned out to be the perfect colors to go with this, and just what I needed.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Kenneth King Weekend (plus Bonus "Hostage" Experience)

Kenneth wearing his Clown Hair Jacket in front of a photo of it.

 I was lucky enough to be able to attend a wonderful workshop featuring Kenneth D. King, designer and sewer extraordinaire, in Kearney, Nebraska.  There were 4 sessions over Friday and Saturday, and I think I can safely say everyone there had a fabulous time.

Mardel came and stayed with me before and after the conference, although it was a flying visit, so not long enough.  We had a great time, and my friends Jan and Jane also went to the conference. 

We learned all kinds of cool tricks and interesting things, and I can say that my creativity was sparked in a big way.  It was just what I needed, I think.  The most exciting thing that happened however, was after the official weekend was over.  Kenneth's ride back to Omaha and his flight out the next morning, had to leave early and they needed someone "who would be willing" to take him to Omaha.  Well, THAT was a no-brainer!  Mardel and I immediately volunteered.  An extra hour to Omaha from Lincoln and then back home was more than worth it to have Kenneth King as Our Hostage!  Yes, we had him in the car for 3 hours across the state, and he was just as gracious, funny, fun, charming and personable as he had been the entire weekend.  We had a blast, and we hope he did too. 

I have a few photos when he let us try on a few things he had brought.  Talk about feeling like a queen!  Some are a little blurry, but that's life, I guess. This is one of his gorgeous boleros made with the moulage, I believe.  I have photos of another one with a blurry front and a sharper back that I will post soon, along with some other details.  Thanks to Mardel for taking these, and to Jan for taking the ones of Kenneth.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Another Swimsuit

I'm still doing Water Aerobics as my main exercise program, and so I'm still making swimsuits.  I did a new one this week and here it is.  The  pattern is one I copied from a RTW suit, and the fabric and the Fold-Over Elastic are from the LA Fashion District (thanks Kathi Rank!!) The bodice is lined with PowerNet from Fabric Depot.  It's sort of an athletic/shelf bra arrangement.  Since I'm hopping around a lot in this, and I'm not wearing it for 'glamour', I like the flattening effect I get with this type of support system.

I was going to say that this was the same as a couple other suits I made, and link to the blog post where I discussed them, but apparently I made them when I wasn't sewing much and I wasn't blogging at all, so I'll put a photo of them in now. 

The pink one with the lines of trim is the one I purchased and have copied.  The others are my copies, and all the fabric is from the LA Fashion District.  The newest, orange one is at the top right in the photos.
The lower photo shows the back, and the interior.  You can see that the powernet has elastic at the lower edge.  It's stitched to the edge of the front piece around the neckline, straps and down the sides.  The lower edge floats free.

New (Old) Vintage Singer aka Grandma's Treadle Machine

 When I was in Junior High (in the 1970's) I was sewing away on my Mom's machine, a straight stitch Domestic, which resided in my parents' bedroom and was in demand by me, my Mom, and my sister.  My grandmother lived in the same town we did, and she sewed as well.  She had a Singer Golden Touch'n'Sew that she used often.  But, she also had her Singer treadle machine, which had been a wedding present in 1925.  She let us have it, and I sewed on it for several years.  It was fun, very reliable, and not really much different than the Domestic other than the power source.

When we moved away, the treadle went back to Grandma's house.  When she moved to a smaller place, my aunt got the treadle, and had it in her home for quite a few years.  It was mainly used as a lovely end table.  I had assumed it would go to her daughter or granddaughters.  A few years ago she asked me if I was still interested in it, and I said, "Of course!"  So she said when she moved to a smaller place, it would come to me.  Well, that day arrived.  I got a call yesterday that her grandson (my cousin's son) was coming down in his SUV to move back home from his college housing here, and would bring the machine to me on the 'empty' trip here.  (He's decided to farm with his Dad, which I think is exciting as well.  It's very nice when young people know what they want to do, and are able to do it.)

So, here it is.  It needs a little love, but mainly it's just about as it was when I used it years ago.  I haven't tried it yet, but I will soon.  I need to read the manual, probably oil it, and the front tip-drawer needs to be put back in place, but it looks like a screwdriver may take care of that.  I am just quite thrilled! 

And these are the accessories and the original manual.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Clean Up

Just a couple notes.

Pam at Fashion Sewing Supply generously provided interfacing sample packs for all of the participants in the Coat Class I did on Saturday, as she did for me in Chicago too.  I can't thank her enough, and I hope the participants take advantage of the resource they've been given, and test the best interfacing available, in my opinion.  You know you'll need interfacing for a coat, and probably more than one type, so this is a great way for them to find out exactly what works best and what fits their fabric and their project.  She sells larger test/sample sets on her site, and I encourage you to try her products if you haven't already.  You will wonder how you got along with what you've used before.  NAYY, just a fan for quite a few years.

On to the non-sewing stuff. 

This may be kind of silly, but I am so thrilled to now have a recycling can as well as a garbage can!  I've been hauling the recyling to various places around town for several years, and it's not that much fun, plus it builds up in my garage until I can take it.  Now, finally I can put it in the recycling can and the garbage guys will take it away.  Thank you Niederhaus Bros.  This is wonderful!   I don't have to sort it, or haul it away myself, I just put it in the can and they take it once a week, like magic.  I don't produce that much trash anyway, but it's amazed me how much of what I used to throw away was recyclable, and it cuts down the actual trash to a very small amount.

My other news is the turkey of course.  I found eggs next to my house in the side yard, behind some ferns and daylilies, and it turned out that they were turkey eggs.  The turkey laid quite a few and has been sitting on them ever since.  I'm hoping they're going to hatch pretty soon.  I am able to look out a window above her nest, and so I keep an eye on her.  She never seems to move much, although I noticed there were quite a few feathers in the side yard yesterday, so maybe she's preening or something, away from the nest a bit.  I really know nothing about turkeys, so it's all a learning experience for me.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Fun in Omaha - ASG Class

The Coat Class I did for the Omaha ASG yesterday went very well.  I had a good time, and I think everyone else did too.  I had said earlier that I was taking about 6 coats that I'd made, but when I got them all together and actually counted them, there were 8.  I hadn't realized I'd made that many, and now I feel very virtuous, or productive, or something anyway. 

This is my latest Coat/Jacket as I'm putting it on and buttoning it up to show the fit.  Yes, it really does match across the seams and hem, but not while I'm buttoning it.

Here's a favorite I wear all the time, and you can see the slide of the Marfy catalog illustration of it.

This is the second time I've done this class, and it's just so much fun.  I hope I will get to do it again.

Ooh, also a little tid-bit I heard while there:  Kenneth King is coming to Kearney, Nebraska this fall to do a 2-day workshop for the Bishop Educators group.  I will make sure I get to attend!

Stitcher's Guild - A Little Reminiscing

Edited on Tuesday, July 23, 2013.  Commenting has been suspended.  Thank you to all who did comment.  It's wonderful to know how many remember the fledging of SG.  It seems this is causing more controversy than I had expected.  I simply wished to publish a little history of our beginnings, and I hope that we are headed for a bright future as well.

Those of you who have been reading my blog for a long time, or who remember me from Sewing World, may remember that the very first Announcement of the new sewing board, Stitcher's Guild (originally and very temporarily, Sewing World Refuge) was made here on Sew Intriguing, on March 20, 2006! By March 29th, we had been temporarily shut down by our host because we exceeded 100 (!!) members. It's hard to believe it's been over 7 years since Kathryn (Fzxdoc) and I put our heads together to figure out a way to keep in touch with all of our wonderful sewing friends when Sewing World finally ground to its inevitable decline. As we said then, we had no real desire to 'usurp' SW's place, but it was slowly dying from neglect, and there was nothing to be done other than make a place where we could all begin again, and carry on.

Much time, thought and effort was put into making the transition as friendly as possible, and to that end, since Kathryn and I are experts at sewing, not with computers, we thought we would ask DragonLady (Julie) to help us create the sewing board of our imaginations. She did this very ably, though of course everything was done with a consensus of the three of us, then Lisa came on board to help us, and it became four of us. Eventually Ann was added to our leadership group, and we have worked long and hard over the years, much of it behind the scenes, to make it all run smoothly. I'm sure I don't have to remind you of the many little contretemps and disagreements over various topics and posts which became controversial for one reason or another. We think we have the greatest group of posters and members anywhere, but a little diplomacy was called for now and then, you'll agree!

As our project grew, we each gave many hours and put a lot of effort into it. The Moderators read all of the posts, heading off trouble where it looked likely, moving posts to make our search function more user-friendly, and more successful, something we all agree is vital to the serious sewer looking for answers, and generally welcoming new members and making wonderful friendships ourselves. We help fix/edit member's posts and photos where and when necessary, which takes time and knowledge on our part and is no small assist to the look and feel of the board. Julie was vital to it all, and she has always gotten kudos for her contribution.

When we began this board, it was on the Ladies Club format, where everyone was a volunteer working to provide enjoyment to all. When something was required, we asked for volunteers and/or donations, and those were forthcoming. Now it seems that Julie is thinking about changing it to a business, the club model is no longer applicable. It has its limitations of course, but it also has a lot going for it. It will be interesting to see just what finally occurs.

As most of you also know, I have been almost totally absent from the board since the death of my DH, Pearle. My life changed so much I just couldn't manage to keep up with it, I couldn't even sew, which was soul-killing in its own way. Any of you who have been through a similar event will understand when I say it was all I could do to just keep my head above water and let the future take care of itself. It was a very dark time, and I was so glad that Kathryn, Lisa, Ann and Julie all were very gracious and let me just slip away.

I am finally (I think, and hope) back to normal, or whatever normal is going to be now, and I thought a little reminiscing was in order. It's been wonderful. I feel that I have friends all over the world through it, and I wouldn't trade the experience of starting and caring for Stitcher's Guild. I don't want to fight, but I don't feel like I should just walk away without a discussion either. It's worth more than that to me. If Stitcher's Guild's time to change into something different has come, it has come. I think we need a discussion at least rather than just announcements.

Links in this post:
Original Stitcher's Guild Announcement
March 29th, 2006

Friday, July 19, 2013

Boiled Wool Marfy Coat 3196

All photos in larger sizes available here.

I'm giving a class on Coat Construction tomorrow to the Omaha ASG chapter, and thought I'd better make a new coat. This is Marfy #3196 from the new 2013 catalog. I made a few changes, of course. Here's the original design.

I didn't like the belt-like hold-ups on the sleeves, and actually, much as I love 3/4-length sleeves, they're really not practical during our winters. So, I thought I would try something else.

The fabric is from Pendleton, originally a flawed piece of cream colored wool. I got it at the outlet in Nebraska City when Linda was here visiting me. She is a master at fulling woolens, and convinced me (it didn't really take much convincing!) that it would be a fun fabric. I fulled and dyed mine while she was here, and it has sat there ever since. I hadn't realized just how nice and absolutely like commercial boiled wool it was until I started working with it. It's really going to be a very warm coat.

I only made a couple of pattern alterations, doing
1. my usual swayback alteration, adding a CB seam in the lower back at the same time, and

2. shortening the bodice between the bust point and shoulder. I just folded about 1 1/2" out to do this.

By shortening the top section of the coat, it moved the button placement so the top 2 buttons are closer together than the others. I decided this was not something I was going to try to change, as I would have had to move all of the seam lines, since the buttonholes are in the horizontal seams. Also, it's not unusual for the collar button on a coat or shirt to be closer to the first bodice button than the spacing between the other buttons.

I'd never done inseam buttonholes before, and I was excited to do these. Yes, they're very simple. You just leave the seam open where you want the buttonhole. It's the back or facing that can be the problem. In a lighter weight wool, I would have made bound buttonholes in the facing. That was not going to work here though, as just having two layers (coat and facing) was already very thick. The wool absolutely does not ravel, so after some consultation with a friend, I used strips of Ultrasuede over the buttonhole area on the facing and just cut slits through it and the facing to match the buttonholes on the front. I had to jazz up the strips a little bit of course. Interesting shapes would have been fun, but I had a roll of Ultrasuede this wide in the right color, so I used this. I think it's kind of cute.

The pockets are also in the horizontal seaming. I used my lining silk for the pocket bags with a small extension of wool so that it won't show the contrast if they gape slightly.

The construction was pretty straightforward. I did hand pick-stitching on the collar, mainly because it was so thick I didn't think machine stitching was going to be either easy or attractive. I may eventually do the same thing on the front edges, but it seems to be holding well without it so far. Here you can see the stitching as well as the buttons.

The lining was put in by hand, my favorite method, although I did flat-line the sleeves. They are very heavy since I have the cuff on them, turned down, in case I decide I want to turn them up. The fabric is heavy enough and textured enough that I don't think they will slip down by themselves.

Since I flat-lined the sleeves, and the sleevehead shape is unusual, I had to figure out a way to make the body and sleeve linings come together attractively. Here's my solution.

Finally, here's the back, and another shot of the front.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Pleather Costume Dress & Garter Belt

All photos can be seen larger here.

I needed a costume for a party in August, and decided this homage to Emma Peel of the original Avengers would be fun.  I'm not sure Mrs. Peel ever wore anything exactly like this, but surely something very similar in spirit.  After all, it was the Mod 1960's.

This dress is made from Pleather from JoAnn's.
I used a Marfy sheath pattern (#1128) as my starting point, with some changes that are not really too drastic design-wise, although the look is quite different from the original here and here.
I've made this dress several times, and it's a very versatile pattern.  This iteration has been shortened, the neck scooped, the back neckline changed to a very deep Vee, and the side zipper exchanged for a below-the-waist CB separating sport zipper. 

You can see the back below.  For ease of fitting, etc., and since it's only a costume, I decided that leaving the Vee open to the top of the zipper and exposing the back strap of my bra would not be a problem.  It would be easy enough to put a modesty strip or panel across with snaps, and if I wear it again, I may do so.
The pleather was very easy to sew, but the fact that pins make permanent holes made it difficult to fit quickly.  Tape didn't hold well to try things, and I ended up using clothespins at times.  I did use some pins where I was going to be sewing anyway.  All edges except the hem are turned and stitched with either a straight stitch or a 3-step zigzag.  You can see both in the photo at left, which shows the ties on the front shoulder 'straps'.  They control excess fullness in the neckline.

The original design has a front jewel neckline with gathers in lieu of some of the dart shaping, and I should have rotated that fullness out before cutting.  This did the trick though, and is kind of cute anyway.

To the right is the back of the dress laid out on the ironing board.  You can see the zipper at CB.  The zipper zips up from the bottom.

You can see the bottom of the zipper below and the double row topstitched hem from both the inside and outside of the garment.  The hem was turned up and stitched along the zipper while the zipper was inserted.

I used a large-toothed sport zipper for this garment, and I think it fits well with the design and the fabric.

To the right you can see the CF waistline from the inside and outside of the dress.  I took a tuck at the waistline between the front vertical darts.  There is no give in pleather, and there was just too much fullness there.

I put elastic inside to gather it up across the grain a little as well.  This seemed to help the fit quite a bit, and it was all hidden by the sash belt.

On to the matching garter belt.  Every 1960's heroine needs a garter belt.  After all, it was before pantyhose made their appearance.  Here it is closed and open.

The pleather made it very quick and easy to sew.  Sturdiness, no raveling and no stretch meant no reinforcement or lining needed.  This sped up the process a lot.  I used purchased garters which came with the elastic attached, and put loops with 2 attachment points on the inside.

The seams were stitched, then each seam allowance was topstitched down.  This might have been overkill, but I wanted it to last, and to be very flat against the skin.  I used the triple zigzag on the edges, again to make sure the edges were very flat.  I had thought it would be fun to add some embroidery or some kind of embellishment to this, but I ran out of time. 

I will leave you with 2 last dress photos.  The side/back view, and the 'fun' shot.  Many of you know that my sister takes all my best photos, and we were getting silly at this point.